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One-to-One Marketing for Consultants – The List

By Bob McCarthy
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Everyone has a list these days. Thanks largely to the growth of email, more and more companies of all sizes are discovering the power of staying connected with their target audiences.

As a first step, before you start searching for lists, you need to know who or what you’re looking for.

You probably already have a list of your own. It may not be organized in any meaningful way, but it’s a list of your clients, maybe your past clients, prospective clients and inquiries.

We call it your House List.

Your House List is one of your most important assets. That’s because everyone on your House List has had some type of relationship with you. That alone makes them highly valuable – and potentially much more responsive than any list you might buy or rent.

Of course, your House List is only part of the equation – and a small part of this article – because what you probably want to know more about is finding new people … new prospects … new sales leads.

Defining your audience

As a first step, before you start searching for lists, you need to know who or what you’re looking for.

You need to define your audience by developing an audience profile.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume you sell to other businesses. Obviously, you’re not going to sell to every business – even if every business could use your expertise. You need to narrow your search to your best prospects.

In developing a customer profile, start by looking at four demographic factors:
• Industry or SIC code
• Size of company (by employee size or sales volume)
• Contact’s job title or function
• Location (Zip codes)

Of course, there may be other factors that are more important to your profile. For example:
• Does your target audience subscribe to a certain trade journal?
• Do they belong to an association or attend conferences related to your field?
• Do they have a history of buying services that are similar to yours?

Take some time to develop this profile and write it down. This will serve you well later on.

Two types of lists

The list business falls into two broad camps – compiled lists and response lists.

Compiled lists
Compiled lists are demographic lists that are “compiled” from a range of sources. Companies like infoUSA and USAData are best for identifying the right companies but have limited ability to drill down to job titles beyond the president. Other compilers like Dun & Bradstreet and Experion can drill down to multiple job titles, but don’t cover all companies, especially smaller companies.

Compiled lists generally cost 8 to 15 cents per name with relatively small minimums (a few hundred dollars). This pricing is for one-time usage, although multi-use is available for added cost.

Email lists are also available at about twice the cost of direct mail lists.

Response lists
Response lists are behavior lists. These include subscription lists, attendee lists, membership lists, product purchased lists and inquiry lists – any lists where the individual had to take some action to be included. Every industry has multiple lists in this category.

Response lists generally cost 20 to 30 cents per name for one-time usage with minimums usually at 5,000 names. Expect to pay 50-100% more for email lists.

In general, response lists perform better than compiled lists because the people are more active in their industry. In some cases, this action involved responding to a direct mail offer which can be a strong indicator of future response.

Enter a new type of list

Over the past several years, a new type of list has emerged that is an excellent option for the small B2B marketer. These are commonly known as crowd-sourcing lists.

Crowd-sourcing lists are actually a variation of the compiled lists in that they provide only demographic information. But unlike other lists, you can pick and choose your contacts one name at a time.

Companies like Jigsaw, ZoomInfo and Netprospex provide a platform where you can go online, enter your customer profile and a list of prospects will appear in front of you. When you see an individual who looks good for you, you can buy that name. Records usually include postal addresses, telephone and email.

This is so much better than the traditional method of ordering lists where you have to order in the blind, meaning don’t see the contacts on the list until you place your order.

(This is called crowd-sourcing because these lists are created and updated by the customers themselves who can submit their own contacts and get credit in return. It’s not required, but it can save you some money.)

Crowd-sourcing lists are more expensive than other list types on a per-name basis ($.50-$1 or more per name), but they provide complete contact information for unlimited use. In other words, you own the name. Pricing structures vary greatly from one company to another so check them out separately and compare.


Bottom line: if you are preparing to engage in a full-scale direct mail lead generation campaign, traditional compiled or response lists are recommended because of the price. But if you are just looking for ways to build a list one name at a time, you can’t beat the crowd-sourcing lists.

Next Article in this series … The Offer


Bob McCarthy is a marketing consultant/copywriter and the owner of McCarthy & King Marketing, a Milford, Massachusetts marketing agency specializing in direct mail, email marketing, website development and online marketing. 

You can subscribe to his blog, The Direct Response Coach, at  Bob can be reached at 508-473-8643 or [email protected]

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